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BP's New System for Capping Deep-Water Oil Wells Almost Ready

Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, BP, and other oil companies, have been developing more effective systems for capping the oil flow from damaged deep-water wells.

Their 35 foot tall, 100 ton lump of steel adds to the other systems designed to work in the in deep-water wells around the world, such as the Gulf of Mexico, Angola, and the North Sea. However, BP’s system is different in that it has been designed to be flown around the world on cargo planes to wherever it is needed; reducing the deployment time.

It would take about 35 trailers to load the system onto five Russian cargo planes and two Boeing B747-200s. BP estimates it could take up to 10 days to get the system to the most distant drill sites, such as off the coast of Australia, but for areas such as the coast of Brazil, the containment cap could be in place within five to seven days.

Richard Morrison, vice president in charge of BP’s global deep-water response, said they had consulted the experts who were involved during the April 2010 Macondo well blowout to devise the system. They thought through all possible scenarios, and designed the equipment to best suit each environment and situation. Geir Carson, BP’s containment response system team leader, said that response plans have been drawn up for all areas where BP are currently involved in deep-water drilling. “There’s more to this than sending a kit to a region and then figuring out how to use it.”

U.S. regulators now require companies to prove they have the equipment and ability to contain blown-out wells before giving approval to drill in deep water. The $50 million capping system was completed in August 2011 and now just requires the final emergency tests before it can be fully approved.

Morrison reminded us that this system is a last resort: “You’re building all this capability, you’re thinking through all the scenarios, but you’re also thinking, well, if the prevention guys do their job, I won’t ever have to deploy this.”

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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